[Junior AJA- Sweden Report] Pride Festival in Sweden Once Again in Success

Below is a round-up of recent news in Sweden.

Pride festival in Sweden once again a success

Photo: Leif R Janson – SCANPIX

Gay pride is the movement working against discrimination and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and empowering LGBT rights movements across the world. The movement is most visible through Pride festivals which are arranged in many cities, with some of the biggest festivals being held in Berlin, Sydney and San Francisco. Sweden arranges over 10 festivals annually, with Stockholm Pride being the largest one in scale. During the period of one week, workshops, debates, music and theater performances and art exhibitions are held together with the ever so popular Pride parade. The festival has been appreciated throughout by the Swedish population and corporate sphere, but has also experienced stray incidents of personal assault on participants and counter demonstrations from right wing and religious groups. Every year about 50,000 people participate and over 450,000 people come to watch the spectacle.

Photo: Alexander Mahmoud – www.dn.se

Starting a few years back, the Swedish police force also has their own section in the parade, with policemen and women both in uniform and in civilian clothes. However, during the 2013 Pride festival that was held on Saturday August 3rd, activists attacked the police and held up signs saying “Queers still not loving the police.” Other police officers who were on duty and responsible for public order during the parade had to intervene and use pepper spray to scatter the activists and one person was subsequently arrested. Similar incidents have previously occurred when the Swedish military force section of the Pride parade was the target of criticism from an anti-military network.

Except for the police and military, other unique participants were the Swedish Church with the message “Love is the biggest of all,” the Swedish synagogue with about 50 participants, the Swedish firefighters and AIK (Allmänna Idrotsklubben), which is one of the most successful sports teams in Sweden.

Photo: Yvonne Åsell – www.svd.se

The Stockholm Pride Festival is sponsored by world-renowned companies such as Carlsberg, 7-Eleven and the company Björn Borg, who have all signed an agreement stating that they share the opinions and values of the Pride movement. In light of the enormous amount of visitors, the Pride festival is the biggest annual event in Stockholm and therefore an increase in tourists during Pride week can be seen.

However, the main topic for the festival this year was the situation for LGBT people in Russia. Demonstrations for LGBT people’s rights in Russia have previously been quelled and as of 2012, Pride parades were banned in Moscow. In June this year, a federal law was passed that prohibits “propaganda” for “non-traditional sexual relations” and is punishable with large fines or deportation for non-residents (SvD “Pride bjuder in med armbågen”, 4 Aug 2013). Even after the parade ended, demonstrations outside the Russian embassy in Stockholm will most likely continue.

Photo: Leif R Janson – SCANPIX

Heat record of the year

On the same day as the Pride parade was held, the highest temperature of the year was recorded in Ängelholm in the south-west part of Sweden, close to neighboring Denmark. During the daytime, the temperature went up to 31 degrees Celsius and the night was a so-called tropical night where the temperature did not fall below 20 degrees. The reason for the current heat wave is the winds transporting warm air from southern Europe. However, already by next week the general temperature will decline by 20 degrees in the north of Sweden and 25 degrees in the south. Sadly this year has seen a trend of increased drowning accidents with people enjoying the warm weather by swimming in the sea. On Saturday, three people drowned and two people were hospitalized. A 20-year old man drowned during a rubber boat contest in central Stockholm and one triathlon competitor was found dead in southern Sweden. This follows a trend of increased drowning accidents this year with 72 people being killed. Adult men are heavily overrepresented in the statistics and the reason is believed to be that they overestimate their own swimming ability. The summer this year has provided splendid swimming weather and therefore the amount of accidents is believed to have increased in comparison to the same time period last year. About 9 out of 10 people are middle-aged men, and other suggested causes are alcohol and an insufficient use of life vests.

Photo: http://www.proteamonline.se/customers/upload/1439/editor/livbojstranden.gif

New illegal drug to Sweden as Ecstasy and LSD rise again

Customs confiscations of LSD and ecstasy have increased drastically during the first six months of the year in Sweden. Operative manager at Stockholm customs Mikael Lindgren says that both drugs almost disappeared for a few years before illegal drug importation started increasing again last year. The drug findings are more than tenfold this year and most of the narcotics are found in postal packages that are ordered to Sweden via Internet order. Mr. Lindgren also mentions that users are mainly people born in the 80s or 90s, so LSD and ecstasy can be said to have found a foothold in new users instead of returning ones.

At the same time, a new drug from China has been discovered in Sweden. The drug is hard to discover by customs and one gram can provide up to 1000 doses. It is similar to LSD in the sense that they are often taken through small doses on “postal stamps” and that the user starts hallucinating and loses grasp of reality. Furthermore, it can lead to severe psychosis. These chemical NBOMe-substances were originally designed for research purposes, but have found their way to the world of the drug market where it goes under nicknames such as “Solaris” and “DIME.”

The biggest discovery so far was a package consisting of 128 grams of the drug. Since the drug was so new, it had yet to be classified as an illegal drug and therefore the 2011 “law on destruction of certain harmful addictive substances” was applied and the drug was destroyed without any legal action against the importer.

The increased commerce of Internet drugs poses a difficult challenge for customs since about 250,000 packages arrive daily to the most trafficked airport, Arlanda, near Stockholm.

Photo: Swedish customs

By Per Ömer Dil

Leave a Reply